I was on Facebook the other day and I saw a friend's posting that suggested that perhaps because George Washington and other famous men were Masons that "You should be one also."
A more comprehensive list may be found on Wikipedia here.
It is nice to remember those who have gone before who were Masons. When I joined the Masons I knew nothing about them. My mother had suggested that "You might enjoy the Masons." Little did she know. Over the last almost 50 years (I joined in the spring of 1966) I have found it a great place to participate with others in a fraternal manner. I have made many friends that I would never have had if not for the Masons.
There are myriads of men who have become Freemasons since the fraternity was founded in Scotland. Most of those men were good Masons and their names are not known outside the Lodge. They are just as important or even more important than the few famous men who are touted by those impressed with fame. They are the men who have preserved the fraternity for hundreds of years and passed it on from one generation to the next.
I suggest those who are interested in the beginnings of the fraternity read David Stevenson's to me The Origins of Freemasonry - Scotland's century 1590-1710.
You can find out more about Freemasonry at the Grand Lodge of Iowa Web Site. And there is a connected site to give you more reasons to join and suggestions about Who, What, Why, How and Where to answer questions about becoming a member.
I read something this morning by Richard Rohr -
"most children saw their mother in a different way. She was not a creator, a fixer, or a defender, but rather a transformer. Once a woman has carried her baby inside of her body for nine months and brought it forth, through the pain of childbirth, into the world, she knows the mystery of transformation at a cellular level. She knows it intuitively, yet she usually cannot verbalize it, nor does she need to. She just holds it at a deeper level of consciousness. She knows something about mystery, about miracles, and about transformation that men will never know (which is why males had to be initiated!)."
THAT INTRIGUED ME. I had to find out a little more. After all so much of what we as Masons do have to do with initiation. Every step in our Masonic journey has to do with an initiation. I used the Google and found that he has a four part series of talks on why men need initiation. This struck a note with me.
"Initiation is not a psychological paradigm at all. It's not about therapy. It's not about solving your problems with your father or your mother or how you were hurt. In fact, it sort of leaps over those. Initiation is not a psychology. It is a cosmology.
I'm going to use the word ownerships. What a man must be given is the inner authority to own his own life, to own his own experience, to own his own responsibility. When you don't have that, you have this victim hood of blaming other people. It is always somebody elses fault. We are a massively uninitiated culture. Basically, if you read the papers, its mostly a blame game. Somebody else is always the cause of all the evil in the world."
My friend and Brother Tim Bonney described Freemasonry as "a society of obligated brothers." A major part of the initiation is the obligation - the centerpiece of the ceremony. When you take the obligation we say that it "makes you a Mason." I disagree with that. A Mason is not really "made." A man is either a Mason or he is not. He is either a person who builds or one who tears down. Joining a fraternity does not make him a Mason. However if a person is led to ask (and you must ask) to join the Lodge he begins his experience of initiation where he will be given the inner authority mentioned above.
Joseph Fort Newton speaks of this initiation in "The Men's House" where primitive boys were taken from their mothers at a certain age and taken to the Men's House to undergo certain ceremonies after which they were accepted as men. Jewish boy's undergo study and a religious ceremony of a Bar Mitzvah as their ceremony of initiation whereby they become men.
In many ways to me that is what the Masonic Fraternity is all about. We use ceremonies of initiation to give men the inner authority they might not have without it. Yes, there are good men who are not members but some of us call them "natural Masons" and there are others who join the fraternity who do it for reasons which are not of the highest nature they will never learn the lessons our fraternity has to offer.
Masons use the working tools of the builder to teach moral lessons and the Three Great Lights of Freemasonry rest upon our Altars no matter where in the world it is found.
Masonry is a world wide fraternal association. It flourished where there is freedom of thought and association. Dictators close lodges and persecute members. The ceremonies of initiation are there for men, good men, who wish to associate with one another and to do good work in the world. By standing together for the principles (Brotherly love, relief and truth) of Freemasonry they have preserved something beautiful in the world. That, to me, is the real reason for wanting to be a Mason. To stand with my Brethren to make the world a better place.